And the benefits for married gay federal employees begin

The Obama administration has announced a slew of new benefits for married gay federal employees, with more to come, as a result of the Supreme Court’s recent DOMA decision.

gay marriage

Gay marriage via Shutterstock

MEMORANDUM FOR HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES

FROM: Elaine Kaplan
Acting Director

SUBJECT: Guidance on the Extension of Benefits to Married Gay and Lesbian Federal Employees, Annuitants, and Their Families

As you already know, on June 26, 2013, the Supreme Court ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional. As a result of this decision, the United States Office of Personnel Management (OPM) will now be able to extend benefits to Federal employees and annuitants who have legally married a spouse of the same sex.

There are numerous benefits that are affected by the Supreme Court’s decision, and it is impossible to answer today every question that you may have. Nevertheless, I want to assure you that the U.S. Office of Personnel Management is committed to working with the Department of Justice to ensure swift and seamless implementation of the Court’s ruling.
OPM will be issuing additional information covering a broader range of issues, but at this time, OPM can offer the following guidance regarding specific employee benefits that may be of particular interest:

Health Insurance (FEHB): All legally married same-sex spouses will now be eligible family members under a Self and Family enrollment. In addition, the children of same-sex marriages will be treated just as those of opposite-sex marriages and will be eligible family members according to the same eligibility guidelines. This includes coverage for children of same-sex spouses as stepchildren. Employees and annuitants will have 60 days from June 26, 2013 until August 26, 2013, to make immediate changes to their FEHB enrollment. Enrollees will continue to be eligible to make changes to their coverage options during Open Season later this year. For those employees and annuitants who already have a Self and Family insurance plan, coverage for their same-sex spouse will begin immediately upon their notifying their FEHB carrier that there is a newly eligible family member. For those employees and annuitants electing Self and Family for the first time, benefits will be effective on the first day of the first pay period after the enrollment request is received. While online enrollment systems are updated, it may be necessary for employees and annuitants to update their elections using the paper (rather than electronic) version of the SF2809 form.

Life Insurance (FEGLI): All legally married same-sex spouses and children of legal same-sex marriages are now eligible family members under the FEGLI Program, which means that employees may add coverage for a same-sex spouse and any newly eligible children under Option C. Employees will have 60 days from June 26, 2013 until August 26, 2013, to make changes to their FEGLI enrollment.

Dental and Vision Insurance (FEDVIP): As with FEHB, all legally married same-sex spouses will now be eligible family members under a Self and Family enrollment or a Self Plus One enrollment. Current FEDVIP enrollees may now call BENEFEDS (877-888-FEDS (3337)) directly to make the necessary enrollment changes. Employees will have 60 days from June 26, 2013 until August 26, 2013, to make changes to their FEDVIP enrollment. Current enrollees will also be able to make changes to their coverage options during Open Season later this year, and individuals wishing to enroll in FEDVIP for the first time may also do so at that time.

Long-Term Care Insurance (FLTCIP): All legally married same-sex spouses can now apply for long-term care insurance under FLTCIP. Same-sex spouses of employees will have 60 days from June 26, 2013, to apply for FLTCIP coverage with abbreviated underwriting.

Retirement: All retirees who are in legal same-sex marriages will have two years from the date of the Supreme Court’s decision (i.e., June 26, 2015) to inform OPM that they have a legal marriage that now qualifies for recognition and elect any changes to their retirement benefits based on their recognized marital status. In the coming days, OPM will be developing guidance to help retirees determine whether they wish to change their pension benefits in a way that will provide benefits for their surviving spouse. Retirees will need to determine whether this option makes sense for them, as making this election will likely result in a deduction to the monthly annuity that the retiree currently receives. Going forward, the same-sex spouses of retiring employees will be eligible for survivor annuities.

Flexible Spending Accounts (FSA): All employees who are in legal same-sex marriages will now be able to submit claims for medical expenses for their same-sex spouse and any newly qualifying (step)children to their flexible spending program.
* * *
Additional guidance regarding these and other benefits will be coming soon. In the meantime, questions regarding the effect of the Supreme Court’s DOMA decision on Federal employee and annuitant benefits should be directed to OPM through your agency Chief Human Capital Officer.
We appreciate your cooperation in our effort to implement the Supreme Court’s decision, and provide greater equality to Federal employees and annuitants regardless of their sexual orientation.

cc: Chief Human Capital Officers


Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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  • Whitewitch

    Yeah! Just yeah and about time…really about time.

  • Bill_Perdue

    I didn’t say it couldn’t be challenged, but that it had to be put down.

    On to ENDA

  • emjayay

    Constitution – Article IV, Section 1:

    Full faith and credit shall be given in each state to the public acts, records, and judicial proceedings of every other state. And the Congress may by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records, and proceedings shall be proved, and the effect thereof.

    So is one of the ways Congress can prescribe the manner in which laws shall be proved and the effect thereoff is to say in the case of marriage you have to ignore Article IV, Section 1? I did notice that in DOMA Section 2 it mentions “give effect”, as in they don’t have to.

  • Bill_Perdue

    I don’t care what their motives may or may not have been. Section Two has to come down before we can said to have won. The US Supreme Court is an extremely right wing pro-business and anti-worker institution. I think this judgement was based on the development of a mass movement and mass pressure since Obama betrayed us in 2008.

    I have no clue how long it will take to do that or to get ENDA or an inclusive and robust CRA. I think that is the more urgent battle followed by a battle to defang the christian cults – mormon, roman cult, evangelicals, etc.

  • Steven

    Give it some time. The Court ruled, in essence, gay marriages are equal to straight marriages in states that allow both. The federal government must recognize them as such. Soon, one of these recognized marriages is going to move to a state where their marriage is not legitimate because of a ban or constitutional amendment. Then, the proper attorneys will file on behalf of their clients. I don’t see how the court could possibly rule that, yes, marriages are equal in states that recognize them but, no, they are not equal in other states. Either they are equal or they are not. I think once again you will have Kennedy, if he’s still on the Court, siding with gay couples. I don’t think states will be forced to perform gay marriages in their jurisdiction, but I do believe they will be compelled to recognize those performed in other states, as they currently are required to do. At that point, it’s Game Over. National recognition – full marriage equality – in all 50 states.

    I believe they simply avoided this issue in their ruling this week to give the country more time to get there on their own. But they certainly know as well as any of us that contradiction cannot continue indefinitely.

  • Bill_Perdue

    The fight for marriage equality is far from over here and globally.

    The Supremes didn’t strike down section two of DOMA “Section 2. Powers reserved to the states. No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.” That states rights position has always been at the core of the Democrats thinking, including Obama and H Clinton. “On Friday, the administration filed a legal brief with the Justice Department that urges the Supreme Court to strike down a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act. The brief formally asks the court to declare unconstitutional a specific part of DOMA called Section 3.”

    Ignoring section two is pandering to the bigots, and the Supremes and the Democrats are doing just that, abandoning the LGBT communities in 37 states and condemning us to a status of second class citizens.

    All that said marriage is least likely form of partnering to strengthen relationships and to last in the long run because of it’s interconnections with residual patriarchal relations straight out of the Dark Ages and it’s use by big business to fuel their profitability.

  • I saw that. Looks like we’re gonna move our plans up to 1st week in August.

  • cole3244

    freedom for whomever is always a reason to celebrate, this is especially satisfying to a lib like me, its a beautiful morning say the young rascals.

  • Thom Allen

    CNN says Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris ALREADY performing same-sex marriages.

  • How very lovely!

    First (oop, next) ceremony in three minutes, San Francisco City Hall. http://s3.amazonaws.com/inarticles/8097e638509aabe7253f059b5c68324a.gif

  • Yes yes yes yes yes YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS! :-)

    What a beautiful start to the weekend.

  • Not off topic as far as I’m concerned. Holeee shee-it.

  • nicho

    BREAKING — the 9th Circuit has just lifted the stay on Prop 8 decision. Same-sex marriages can begin in CA!!!!!!!

  • Thom Allen

    Becca, off topic, but look – marriage starts NOW in CA: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-prop-8-gay-marriage-20130628,0,1889039.story

  • Interesting. Even though they don’t say so, it looks like they’re going full-bore, even for federal employees currently living in states that ban or do not recognize same-sex marriage.

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